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Running: Hawaii 5-Oh-So-Delicious Recovery Foods

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Papaya; Photograph by janineomg, flickr

My favorite Hawaiian recovery foods for runners.

As I mentioned in my most recent blog, my husband and I are expecting our first born this fall. In celebration of our lives turning forever upside down (in a wonderful way of course!), we decided to take a “babymoon” to Maui to experience most likely the last of our “just the two of us” jaunts. Come late September, traveling will involve a lot less spontaneity, and more crib-inclusive hotels.

I travel a lot for racing and my husband often accompanies me. The best part about traveling to race, outside of competing, is the opportunity to eat our way through that particular area. Wherever I am in the world, I always get excited about exploring the culinary landscape by munching the way the locals do. Even though Maui comes as a real vacation and not a business trip (race), my desire to dive into this oceanside food scene knows no different. Every time I visit this place, I convince myself that somewhere deep in my bloodline, I am slightly Hawaiian (granted, I do have cousins who live in Lahaina, however, they are not native Hawaiians and I’m actually Scandanavian…couldn’t be further from my suspicion). I love everything there is to eat in this island paradise!

Eating for me is multi-faceted. Not only do I find it exciting to try new foods—and often discover new favorites in the process—but I also eat with an overarching purpose: to fuel/nourish. As a competitive athlete, I treat eating as a means of enjoyment certainly, but also as an important opportunity to fuel my body for the demands I require of it.

Fueling goes so much deeper than just consuming calories! I aim to (and teach my clients to as well) eat nutrient-dense foods that provide nourishment on a cellular level so the body can operate as optimally as possible. In order to run efficiently, our bodies require hydration and also adequate sources of carbohydrates, fat and protein. All three of these categories serve very specific purposes for runners. In short, carbs provide energy, fat helps with joint lubrication, and protein builds and repairs muscle tissue.

The following is a list of my personal “island favorites” that you can find at your local supermarket to help fuel your running more efficiently.

Coconut Water: A natural isotonic beverage, this liquid goodness is full of hydration-optimizing electrolytes minus the loads of sugar other “sport drink” alternatives contain. This stuff is delish all by itself and is packed full of magnesium, potassium and other minerals that help regulate your body’s fluid balance.

Papaya: Not only does this flavorful fruit have a buttery texture, it’s a great source of protein-digesting enzymes that help reduce inflammation, protect against cardiovascular disease and promote alkalinity in the body. Hint: if you want to enjoy a papaya “island style,” cut the fruit in half, scoop out the seeds and spritz both halves with fresh limejuice. Grab a spoon and go at it—yum!

Kona Coffee: I know. This I-can’t-function-without-it beverage gets a controversial bad rap from time to time, however, I’m a firm believer in the benefits coffee has to offer endurance athletes. I like to drink a mocha latte after I run mostly because I like the taste, but also because the milk provides protein for muscle repair, the sugar from the chocolate replenishes exhausted glycogen stores and the caffeine helps with metabolism regulation and glycogen uptake (allows your body to utilize carbs for energy more efficiently). Other touted benefits include alertness (like you didn’t know
that already!), and nervous system stimulation.

Macadamia Nuts: Trust me—you need fat in your diet if you want to run well. It just so happens that macadamia nuts contain a lot of it! Macadamias are a great source of monounsaturated fat (highest percentage of any nut actually). The body utilizes fat for energy needs and lubrication of joints, to name a few. These nuts are also a great source of minerals and fiber. Do you really need another reason to eat these delicious little nuggets?

Fresh Fish: Fish is an excellent and tasty source of lean protein, which for runners, is vital for muscle repair. Not only that, it supplies a wide spectrum of essential fatty acids that regenerate tissues and help construct healthy cells. Mahi mahi is my personal favorite—macadamia encrusted mind you…aloha double whammy!

Megan Lizotte is a decorated elite distance runner and online running coach at She is a three-time World Mountain Running Championships competitor, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, 2011 USA Trail Marathon Champion and 2011 USATF Trail Series Champion. She also became the first American woman to win the prestigious Sierre Zinal Mountain Race in Switzerland. Lizotte is sponsored by Montrail and Mountain Hardwear.